Black, long-haired and brachycephalic breeds (those with short muzzles and flat faces such as a bulldog or pug) can really suffer in the heat, so coming up with ways to keep them busy in a safe way is essential. Giving them treats is one way, but too many can increase their weight, and it won't take most dogs long to crunch through treats. To extend the life and interest of treats, you can freeze them and combine them with some of the many available toys, and here's how.
Choice of Toy
To your dog (or indeed, cat, rabbit, ferret or any other pet), a toy is simply something they want to play with. To us, it's normally something bright, colourful and expensive that we buy in a pet shop. This 'recipe' uses one such toy, but use your imagination and anything could be substituted.
Toys for dogs need to be safe, so hollow toys that may be stuffed with food need to have a hole in each end to avoid potential injury. They need to be of the right strength for your dog's chewing, as some dogs may decide to chew their way through the toy (especially if it is too large for them to reach the bottom with their tongue) which can be dangerous if they swallow the bits, leading to an obstruction.
This recipe uses the Kong, which is a hollow, hard rubber toy (based on a motorbike gasket!). It can be thrown, chewed, bounced, fetched, and perhaps most importantly, stuffed. It ticks all the safety boxes for this activity, comes in different sizes (for different species of pet as well) and different 'strengths' for stronger chewers. Other chew toys are available, including generic versions, or you could try a cardboard toilet roll insert. However, soggy cardboard may not be much of a challenge for your dog. Please be sure any toy you use is safe for your pet.
You will need:
|A freezer and some space in it||Some (or just one) Kongs||Some lovely stuff dogs like such as tuna, peas, hot dog or cocktail sausages etc|
|Couple of hard dog biscuits||Bowls, jugs, dog dishes or similar that can be put in the freezer||Some (or just one) dogs|
Drain and rinse the tuna and hot dog sausages. Mash up the tuna and cut the sausages into short bits. Put the Kong into a jug, narrow end down and put a biscuit in the bottom to plug the small hole. Spoon in tuna – the first time loosely. Once your dog has got to grips with the idea of emptying a Kong you can really pack it in tightly. Also a biscuit can be wedged into the top hole once the dog is used to it, but for now, just stuff it.
You can stop here – put the Kong into the freezer for a while, and then let your dog have it once it's nicely chilled. For more experienced dogs, or if you want your dog occupied for longer, carry on reading.
Put the stuffed Kong in the bowl. It can lie down or stand up, it doesn't matter if it sticks up above the rim, but will keep the dog busier if it doesn't. Pour in some water, about one third of the way up the Kong. Scatter in some bits of sausages, not too many pieces, some peas maybe, and put it in the freezer.
Once it's frozen, top up with another 'layer' of water and put some more treats in, maybe the cocktail sausages, perhaps a brussel sprout or two and carry on freezing. Once frozen again, top up the bowl as much as you can, a few more treats and freeze.
Once it is completely frozen, you can give it to your dog. The Kong should be nearly completely encased in a block of ice.
Your dog either has to wait for it to defrost to get the treats and the Kong, or he has to eat through the ice. Both will take time, your dog will be kept busy, without being overheated on a walk.
If you use metal bowls, the ice should be pushed out and given to the dog, so will probably need to be fed in the garden (in a shady area) as the metal will get cold and the dog's tongue and lips could get stuck to it and injured. Some dogs will kick and push the bowl about trying to tuck in, so might also need to be put outside.
Your dog's dinner can be fed this way, if you use treats, remember to feed less for a few meals so your dog doesn't put on weight.